In Philly, Williams and Butkovitz weigh challenge to Mayor Kenney

Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (left) and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz are considering primary challenges to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney next year. (Emma Lee/WHYY and Jana Shea for WHYY)

Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (left) and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz are considering primary challenges to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney next year. (Emma Lee/WHYY and Jana Shea for WHYY)

At least two Philadelphia Democrats are considering a challenge to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s re-election bid next year.

State Sen. Anthony Williams, who lost to Kenney in the Democratic primary four years ago, says he’s considering a rematch.

And former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who is holding a fundraiser this month, is widely expected to run.

Williams said in a phone interview that Kenney has fallen short of expectations.

“We’d be talking about a record of an administration that came into office to reduce poverty, which it has not. To increase safety for all Philadelphians and, most important, transform the educational experience for all Philadelphians, which it has not,” Williams said.

Williams’ 2015 mayoral campaign had the support of an independent political committee funded by three suburban financial executives who advocate vouchers and charter schools.

Though the committee, called American Cities, spent $7 million to promote Williams’ candidacy, he finished a distant second to Kenney, who benefited from $3 million in spending by two super PACs.

Williams said he expects he’ll have no trouble raising money, but he’ll have to consider whether he can assemble an organization quickly enough to wage an effective campaign.

The filing deadline to run is March 14, and the primary election is May 21.

Butkovitz served three terms as city controller before losing unexpectedly to first-time candidate Rebecca Rhynhart last spring.

He declined to discuss his plans, but has scheduled a fundraiser for next week.

City Councilman Allan Domb has been mentioned in political circles as another potential rival to Kenney.  A wealthy real estate investor, he could finance much of a campaign himself.

Domb entirely didn’t rule out a mayoral run a phone interview, but didn’t embrace it either.

“At some point in my career I would be interested, but I’m not sure this is the right time,” Domb said. “I’m planning to run for re-election as a City Councilman-at-large.”

All 17 City Council seats are up for election next year in addition to the mayor’s office.

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Kenney’s re-election campaign said in a statement that “the voters of Philadelphia want a progressive leader, someone who will stand up to the rich and powerful and hold them accountable — not a corporate Democrat who is aligning himself with greedy soda CEO’s who want to take pre-K and public school funding away from our kids.”

Williams and Butkovitz have criticized the sweetened beverage tax.

As of September, Kenney’s campaign committee reported $435,000 on hand.

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